B.A. Pass is a film which would obviously for the reason of depicting sex be looked upon as an erotic film to start with but for all those who are willing to look beyond the obvious sexual innuendos is the tragic story of a boy who only wishes to set his own and his sisters’ life straight and ends up losing his everything. It is truly a heart wrenching story which is bound to leave you shocked and devastated by the end. The film also goes on to show that people tend to get exploited to shocking levels primarily owing to their families and near and dear ones but the feeling of being love could be a bigger blackmailer than anything or anyone else.
Based a short story by Mohan Sikka titled “Railway Aunty”, which appeared in the 2009 anthology Delhi Noir, B.A. Pass is the story of Mukesh(Shadab Kamal) a recently orphaned boy who has come to live with his aunt after the tragic death of his parents in a car accident. He is pursuing a B.A. Pass course which he knows will not fetch him anything. He spends time to cope with his existence playing chess at the Cemetery with Johnny (Dibyendu Bhattacharya) who is the lone friend that he has in the world. Soon Mukesh meets Sarika aunty (Shilpa Shukla), a svelte seductress who quickly wins over Mukesh’s heart.
Innocent and confused, Mukesh falls for her charms and literally becomes a slave to her sexual advances. He soon finds Sarika sending him to other women to pleasure them in exchange for money and before he can think any further, he turns into a male prostitute. Things look bright for him initially but suddenly the situation turns topsy turvy taking him down a lane which will bring only destruction and misery on him and those associated with him. He tries to come out of the situation but every effort that he makes to come out only drags him further into the mess until he reaches the limit to his patience and toleration.
At 95 minutes, B.A. Pass will easily be one of the shortest Hindi films ever made. Now that short runtime not only helps make the film breezy but in this case works perfectly at not giving any chance to the audience to dilute their attention. It’s not saying that the film’s content lacked merit to hold on to the audience a while longer, but that this kind of a treatment is well served in short durations. Every scene in the narrative takes the story and the film forward and there isn’t a single sequence that the film could have done without. This just goes on to underline the effective editing and screenplay of the film.
It’s a 95 minutes grim ride in the life of a boy which is and remains devoid of any happiness or for that matter positivity. He is already a troubled individual when the film starts as is evident from the initial sequence where he terms the death of his parents a betrayal. He doesn’t know that it is just the beginning to the many other betrayals that he was going to face as he moved to his aunty’s house. These betrayals would eventually take him to his end. The film is packed with effective sequences which convey more than what is spoken but some of the sequences really made me stand up and take notice. The scene where the boy, for the first time, ends up with three men, the scene where the truth is revealed to him, the scene where he is robbed off all his money. These are some of the scene which are truly harrowing.
The performances are just so very real that you forget that you are watching a film and have a feel of just getting a voyeuristic view of the proceedings in an Indian house hold. Shilpa Shukla as the seductress is unbelievable. She plays the seductress and the vamp with equal élan and never oversteps her boundaries. Shadab Kamal as the young boy who is dazed and confused is pitch perfect. He truly comes to his own in the final scenes where he takes over the mantle of the whole film with ease. Dibyendu Bhattacharya in a small but crucial role is superb.
Overall, B.A. Pass is a dark and grim film which is bound to leave a bad taste in the mouth. It is a thrilling misadventure into the neon-lit streets of Paharganj which will both shock you and amuse you at certain junctures. This is one film which should be watched primarily because of the rawness of the narrative, the primal thrills that it provides and for the simple reason that it is reminiscent of the changing face of our Film industry. A must watch.